Tag Archives: Bible; chemistry; moral

A look into the story of the Tower of Babel from a chemist’s point of view

One of the most amazing stories of all time is the account of the Tower of Babel, a biblical story in the book of Genesis, chapter eleven, verses one to nine (Gen 11:1-9).
I wish to give a breakdown of the story from an amateur chemist’s point of view and its moral lessons 🙂

Let’s go!

Verse one: Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
Verse two: As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
Verse three: They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and bitumen for mortar.

Ok, let’s refresh our memory a bit…
When crude oil is taken from the ground, to separate it into useful components, it undergoes fractional distillation, a technique that allows it to be separated into fractions with same number of Carbon molecules.
The lighter gases like the cooking gas are gotten first, then the gasoline which is the regular fuel for our automobile, then naphtha, kerosene, diesel and finally bitumen etc.
I want you to understand the chemical strength of bitumen which is a black, tough, viscous, low melting solid that forms (water)-resistant adhesive surfaces! And used on our roads with coal tar
Mortar on the other hand which is a mixture of sand and a binder eg cement with water, is used in masonry.
Used in covering wall or holding building materials.

Now imagine using bitumen as tar to plaster a wall made of fired bricks of clay!
Ahaaa! You’re thinking what I’m thinking 🙂

Verse four: Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

A tower that reaches to the heavens!
They sure did have high aspirations and enthusiasm.
You know this reminds me of the elementary geography I learnt many years ago about the atmosphere having 5 layers: Troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere. You know, it is the exosphere that escapes into space or should I say the heavens?
So, would I be wrong to replace the phrase “the heavens” in verse four with “exosphere”?
That is like 10,000km above earth o!
🙂 seriously, they would have made history with the skyscrapers before any mention of the wonders of the world.
God himself knew they would have.
Verse five: But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.
Verse six: The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
Verse seven: Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
Verse eight: So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
Verse nine: That is why it was called Babel- because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Oh dear!

(If you want a theological review, please see your pastor 🙂 )

But so many lessons to be learned here:

  • No creation can outdo it’s creator– verse eight
  • Unity is strength– verse four/six
  • Language unifies– verse one
  • Migration can only end when your current position is your comfort zone and your comfort zone is heaven!– verse two
  • Communication is key to establishing any relationship– verse three
  • The bond of unity is a fertile ground for love to grow on– verse four
  • God is all knowing, all powerful and ever present– verse five/seven/nine

Version used is New International Version (NIV).

Thank you for reading.

Priscilla Esuku
© 2015

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